guide to skincare boosters

Whenever I think I’ve got my skincare routine all figured out, my skin goes and throws me a curveball.

Take last winter. When the first gusts of freezing winds hit my skin, they suck all the moisture out of it. My skin flaked like crazy. And got so sensitive, even my trusted holy grails irritated it.

Or that time of the month. My hormones are all over the place and never fail to give me a pimple or two.

And so, the search for new skincare products that can deal with these new issues starts all over again…

It’s terribly frustrating, isn’t it? That’s why I was so excited when skincare boosters started making their appearance.

Word has it, they help you customize your skincare routine to deal with this kind of emergencies. I had to give them a go and see what all the fuss is about.

What’s the deal with skincare boosters? Do they work or are they just another creative way for skincare brands to steal your hard earned money?

What Are Skincare Boosters?

Skincare boosters are highly concentrated concoctions that target one specific skincare woe. There are boosters to add extra moisture to the skin, boosters to get rid of dark spots, boosters to deal with wrinkles…

The whole idea here is that your skin changes all the time. It can get drier in winter, oilier in summer, get pimples when you’re on your period, develop wrinkles as you get older…

A booster is there to supercharge your skincare routine, creating just the right concoction your skin needs at any particular moment.

Not sure what products and ingredients you can mix and match together safely? Download your FREE “How To Layer Actives Like A Pro” cheat sheet to find out:

How Are Skincare Boosters Different From Serums?

Serums and boosters are close cousins. They both contain high concentrations of active ingredients, but a lot less (if any!) thickeners, emulsifiers, and all that other stuff that gives moisturizers their richer textures.

But boosters are even more concentrated than serums, so they work that little bit faster. 

If you’ve found a serum that works wonders for you, there’s no need to get a booster too. A booster is for those times when your skin needs that little bit of extra help your usual skincare routine can’t give it.

Related: Why You Need A Serum In Your Skincare Routine

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Booster?

  1. DIY skincare: You can easily create your own DIY skincare products and transform you fave moisturizer into a super powerful anti-aging or anti-blemishes weapon.
  2. Bespoke daily skincare: You get to choose the strength of the treatment every time you use it. The more drops you use, the more powerful it is (but don’t go overboard!).
  3. An extra helping hand: Thanks to their high concentration of active ingredients, they’ll help you fix any new skin woe faster than other skincare products.

What Are The Cons Of Using A Booster?

  1. Diluted efficacy: When you mix your skincare booster with any other skincare products, you dilute it. That means, it’ll take longer to work.
  2. Expensive: They usually come in smaller bottles and tubes that are priced almost as much as or even more than full-size serums and moisturizers.
indeed labs hydration booster

How Do You Use A Skincare Booster?

If you’ve decided you need a booster after all, here’s what you need to know to work it into your skincare routine:

  • You can use a booster alone or mix it with your fave serum or moisturizer (never with sunscreen – you’ll just dilute the SPF!).
  • If you want to mix it with another product, pour a small amount on your hand and add one or two drops of booster (the more drops you’ll use, the more powerful – and potentially irritating – the concoction you’re making is).
  • The sooner you apply the booster, the better. For best results, pat it on after exfoliant or toner but always before serum.
  • Most boosters can be used both morning and night. The exceptions? Vitamin C and retinol. High doses can irritate skin if it’s not used to them, so use them only every other night.

What Are The Best Skincare Boosters?

Ready to invest in a skincare booster? Here are my fave for every skin concern:

clinique fresh pressed renewing powder cleanser

Best For Brightening Skin: Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10% ($76.50)

The packaging is a pain to use (Clinique had to provide instruction for it!), but the juice inside is loaded with 10% Ascorbic Acid, the pure form of vitamin C. It’s a powerful anti-aging superstar that brightens dull skin, reduces dark spots, boosts collagen production, and even prevents wrinkles. Plus, it’s also loaded with other antioxidants to help you keep those pesky wrinkles away for longer. Did I mention it mixes well with moisturisers?

Available at: Feel UniqueSephora and Ulta

Related: Why You Should Add Vitamin C To Your Skincare Routine

Best For Dry Skin: Dr Dennis Gross Clinic Concentration Hydration Booster ($68.00)

When your skin needs some extra moisture, there’s only one guy to turn to: hyaluronic acid (and its close cousin sodium hyaluronate – they’re pretty much the same thing). This guy can attract, and bind, to the skin up to 1000 times its weight in water. Your skin can’t get more moisture than that! What sets this serum apart is the addition of skin-repairing ceramides, soothing evening primrose extract and a bunch of wrinkle-preventing antioxidants. Dr Gross has really thought of everything!

Available at: Cult Beauty and Sephora

Related: Dry Skin? Here’s Why You Should Use Hyaluronic Acid

Best For Treating Sun Damage: Paula’s Choice Resist 1% Retinol Booster ($52.00)

This serum has one of the highest concentrations of retinol you’ll find OTC. Yep, retinol is so powerful, even a 1% concentration packs a punch. So, what does it do? It accelerates cellular turnover and boosts collagen production, two things that help get rid of wrinkles. It also reduces dark spots and treats acne. Plus, the booster is also full of soothing and hydrating goodies to keep skin soft and supple and reduce inflammation.

Available at: Feel Unique, and Paula’s Choice

Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol

paula's choice 10% niacinamide booster 01

Best For Sensitive Skin: Paula’s Choice Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster ($42.00)

When you have sensitive skin, it’s incredibly hard to find anti-aging skincare products that don’t bother it. This booster is loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients to soothe irritations, antioxidants to prevent wrinkles, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate skin. But the star here is niacinamide: it reduces wrinkles and dark spots, hydrates skin, soothes inflammation, and even treats acne!

Available at: DermstoreLook Fantastic, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice

Related: Niacinamide, The Underdog Of The Antiaging Treatments

The Bottom Line

Skin boosters are those friends you call in your hour of need. Even if you haven’t kept in touch for ages, when you need them they’re always there to lend your skin a helping hand. If your skincare routine is in need of a boost, give them a call.